If you are married, how many years? How many children?"
And if for any reason you don't have kids, you have had it. There goes a barrage of questions and the Auntyjis sharing their expertise on why it’s important to have children soon. When you finally have a child and are still struggling to cope with the new responsibility and adapt to the changed lifestyle with your newborn, they are still not done.
So did you have a normal delivery or cesarean? In fact though technology is so advanced these days and caesarean is no longer considered such a big or complex operation, the pressure on mothers to have a normal delivery is immense. I had my share of well-meaning but intensely annoying advice on ‘things to do’ to have a normal delivery. One of the most amusing pieces of advice was, “When you go into labour, have a glass of hot water with ghee, the child will slide out.” It’s so funny that the thought makes me giggle even today. I believe it should solely be the decision of the mother coupled with the doctor’s advice.
Apart from complications requiring a cesarean to be performed, I have known of many mothers who go for it by choice. I believe it’s perfectly ok; they have the right to choose not to go through labor pain, it’s their body and the safety of her child will forever be at the forefront of every decision made by a mother. Another equally illogical statement I have heard people make is, “Go to Ms X doctor, the majority of her deliveries are normal. If you go to a big hospital they are bound to loot you and you are doomed to have a caesarean.” I can tell you that all these are complete lies. I went to one of the most renowned maternity hospitals in Bangalore, hardly did any of “those things” people say is a must for a normal delivery, and yet had a perfectly normal and I can say smooth delivery (thanks to an epidural which was a life saver; again, I have heard so much about the ill effects of epidural but I am glad I took it as it helped make my delivery a beautiful memory rather than a nightmare) .
Hardly is the mother out of the labour room, her body having gone through so much pain and physical trauma, as she holds her tiny bundle of joy in her hands, phone calls pour in and the second most important question is “Normal tha kya?” (Was it a normal delivery?). Really – if I may ask, isn’t this a personal topic? Can’t you just be happy knowing it’s a girl or a boy and inquiring that the mother and baby are safe? Of course, if someone is close to us we usually ask them this question and I guess it’s fine as long as we don’t judge.
We then come to the next question – are you breastfeeding or bottle feeding? In fact, I have seen both are usually asked by people in the same breath. And for any reason if you are not breastfeeding your child or supplementing the feed with formula, they look at you as if you are Cinderella’s evil stepmother. No, I am not exaggerating – this is my personal experience and it made me feel so low about myself; the guilt pangs of not being a good mother, failing right from the start, could I ever make up for it? These thoughts constantly plagued me. I looked for solace over the net to see if people had similar experiences, something I could relate to and would make feel better. Sadly very little of this comes out in the open so here I am proclaiming (my own thoughts – you may or may not agree) – stop judging us.
We have had enough, it’s not easy. Just so that you know, feeding a baby is not easy. Each woman is different, all of us struggle through those initial days and some master it later on, whereas for some of us it’s an ongoing struggle. Latching issues, lack of supply, baby refusing to feed – the reasons could be multiple. No mother would want to deliberately deprive her child of her milk which she knows is so important for the infant’s immunity. Stop giving us those accusatory glances as soon as we take out a bottle to feed the child. Do you expect that if the child is still not getting enough feed, we let the child get used to the practice of crying itself to sleep, but don’t touch the bottle at any costs?
I realized I knew so little about this; the delivery was my biggest fear. It was the most awaited moment but at the same time I dreaded the pain; however it turned out it wasn’t as scary as it sounds. Something like feeding the baby which I had not given a second thought to (as I thought it would be a natural effortless process) almost made me go into postpartum depression. Only when I spoke out more openly to other new mothers did I realise that many were going through this.
I was not alone and yes, one thing that I am certain of is that my daughter, Angel will love me intensely just as I love her, irrespective of whether I fed her formula or my milk. I don’t think that’s a measure of my love, so I have decided to stop holding myself in low esteem, stop the guilt from bogging me down – for I know I am and was always true to my child. I will always love her unconditionally and strive to give her the best of everything. I need to free myself from these baseless thoughts.
I know in my heart that it’s not going to stop here. A few months down the line, people would stop talking about this and they would find newer topics then – is she on solids? Why is she so lean/chubby? Why is she so noisy/shy? Is she good at studies? How much did she score in her exams? There is no end to it. It is up to me to introspect and be true to myself and this is the first step towards this. If I fail here, I would keep failing. I then put a full stop to this. And yes, I am at peace now.
Have heard this from so many and read it as well- babies who are not breastfed lack immunity, are constantly falling ill and not as smart as the breast fed ones. These are pure myths- Angel is as healthy as other babies of her age, her milestones, weigh, height etc is as per her age and never have I heard from her paediatrician that there is something I should worry about. I am very certain that she will turn out to be a smart girl. Well her Mommy is one who was a formula fed baby too and don't think she lacks on any counts- be it her health or her IQ!
As I take Angel for her round of vaccination and see so many infants and tiny tots tightly clutching their mothers hands, I do not know if they had their mother's milk or not but I do see the innocent and deep love in their eyes for their mother, and I know all that matters is this love and nothing else!
Note: Through this post, I only intend to bring to light the turmoil a mother goes through due to her inability to feed her child for any reason whatsoever. The mindset of people around her plays a very big role here and the least they can do is stop making her feel guilty and judging her, there is nothing wrong in advising and sharing their own experiences but when it comes "advising", people are only too happy in doling out more n more of it, without pausing to give a thought of its repercussions(don't think it can be termed "advise"any longer). There is no debate on the fact that breast milk is the best for a baby, and almost every mother struggles through feeding. Have read umpteen blogs on this one, but how many people write about formula feeding, its not without its share of struggles(read guilt of the mother) which I would say is not at all an easy one to let go.
Bhagwan you speak English with your daughter? What is happening these days?
People want to show off and are forgetting their roots”. I have heard this many times. Earlier my
reaction used to be - apologetic. I would keep quiet and try to ignore the comment
and find an escape route. But now if someone dares to talk to me about this
matter, I snap them off then and there. I am unapologetic I don't think I have
done anything wrong which I need to feel ashamed about. So yes I do speak in
English at home and this is my first language. No qualms about it. And
it's not because of an inter caste marriage in fact I have been speaking
English as a first language right since childhood. To give you some background
on how this came to be. My mother’s parents belonged to Mangalore ( it's a
coastal town in Karnataka) they migrated to Bombay in search of a livelihood
when they were young. They married, had kids and their kids were brought up by
a maid. As my mom and her brother lived…
Now let me confess- I am really NOT someone who loves watching
daily soaps. I know reading the tile you thought- what the heck, if it’s a
daily soap on TV it is bound to be stereotypical, full of nonsense and drama
and if you watch such stuff why complain, and if complain why watch? There was a
time when I was in college, all naive, and this was when internet was all about
going to the cyber cafe and getting all excited about entering the chat room
and typing asl (age ,sex ,location) and talking to strangers. At that time, the
only source of entertainment for young people like me was the idiot box so I won’t
lie- I used to watch the Ekta Kapoor soaps and probably even like that at that
point, that’s why I use the word Naive. As I grew up, met
diverse set of people, read and experienced new cultures, my thought process
changed. With a hectic job, I hardly found time for any TV watching. My Mom who
is also a working woman used to watch a few Marathi soaps. She always told me
A visit to the shopping mall and all kinds of people dressed in
varied shades and type of clothes is what catches the eye. While the guys
longingly ogle at pretty girls and women check out each other from top to down-
right from how has she done her hair to her toe nail and the shade of nail
paint, one cannot fail to notice some middle aged aunties all dressed up in a
pair of jeans or a skirt, some of them look around awkwardly, adjust their
dress and try to look comfortable but it’s apparent that they are not. How
could they possibly be? For around them are so many eyes scanning them, some
are whispering to others and guffawing. It is quite evident that people find it
amusing when a fat lady wears jeans. She's your regular
woman who has those tires around her waist and some generous dollops of flesh
on her thighs. She is the one always trying to hide these so called flaws by
wearing an ill fitting salwar for hasn't she heard time and again from
everyone- “you are FAT, you are…